Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Being Alive

Last week I was invited by the Association of Social Workers of the Tel Aviv Municipality to address a forum of social workers who deal with the elderly community of Tel Aviv but not only. Also with others who feel cut off from society from the mother of a newly born to an invalid who suddenly cannot work and more. And again, those like me who are alone because they have lost their partner, husband or wife.

As I accepted the invitation I realised that I had a mission and that was to try to bring to those who feel that no one cares about them, into my mindset about dealing with old age, widowhood and so on.

As I also have a granddaughter who has chosen Social Work as her calling, I I I wanted these dedicated people, who in my opinion have the most demanding and difficult job that exists and who enter it of their own free will, to learn something from me, that may be of use.

I told them that I had written a book about the ten years since I lost my husband. Although he had been an invalid for many years he was an erudite fun loving and supportive man and fully compos mentis till he died.

The freedom I experienced immediately following his death was short lived and then the BIDIDUT as it is called in Hebrew, isolation, being alone call it what you will, set in.

Well, yesterday Friday, January 4th, 2019 I launched my book. I invited to my home some of those who appeared in the short stories called”The Widow’s Tales” and others whose love and support indeed helped me through difficult times with acts of kindness and caring.

Amongst my eclectic and fascinating friends were,Itamar Barkai musician and singer/actor who played cello and sang while poet Karen Alkalai Gut read a tale. Mia Gotkine singer and dancer sang Being Alive, Nivin   Jayussi musician and singer sang in arabic about losing a loved one and then Private Dancer( title of one of the stories). Also, Hagit Maoz musical performer par excellence, who happens to be related, opened the event and magically also closed it. Jane Biran author and close friend who happened to be my boss for  12 years and Shira Richter, Internationally acclaimed Feminist researcher on parenthood, gender, and art, both read tales. Added to those mentioned, all around were my wonderful family(including great-grandchildren) in the kitchen with Sami from Sri Lanka who kept everything in order.

I only mention especially, my son Professor Peter Harris who is also my mentor and took my and his father’s love of theatre to a higher plane.

He also carries the burden of an elderly parent who is a nudnik…aren’t we all?

After the usual nosh and chat with ooh’s and aah’s at those who arrived including Yossie and Sue Alfi and my special friend V who flew in from France, Heidi from Stuttgart and house guests from Nuremberg. As well as Professor Elihu Richter and his wife Alma. Elihu is a long time colleague and I could say conspirator in our previous battle together to prevent death and serious injuries on our roads.

In short everyone in that room was connected if not to the peace movement then to various other activities including dance which has been a great factor in enhancing my life. At the end of the afternoon, Zainie originally from the Phillipines arrived with husband Hassan. She had been my husbands’ carer for 5 years until he died and of course, features in the book.

It was great to have guests also speaking Arabic, Hebrew and English, French some even  German and Swiss German too my dear Marianne.

Almost a UN in my home.

After most guests had departed Hassan said to me “You know we are not cousins you know we are brothers” Why I asked “Well as for Jews a child’s religion is according to the mother,  in our religion it’s according to the Father. Avraham had two sons”

A fitting end to an extraordinary get together based on my little book”A Widow’s Tales but the event would not have been possible without the painstaking efforts of Lily Bloch my editorial assistant and right hand for the past 3 years.

PS. Please do not take offense, any guest whom I omitted to mention, I love you all!

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.
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